Inside 1to1:Privacy

Greetings!

June 2, 2009

As Alan Westin has shown us through years of consumer research, when it comes to privacy there are fundamentalists, pragmatists, and those unconcerned. Enter the disguisers.

The disguisers--there are a half million of them so far--have downloaded a browser extension that foils search engines' efforts to track their queries by substituting a fake search term. In this issue of Inside 1to1: Privacy, Larry Dobrow speaks with the co-creator of the TrackMeNot extension, New York University media, culture, and communication professor Helen Nissenbaum.

Ms. Nissenbaum's tool, should it go mainstream, could be a rock in the streams of behavioral marketers and others who are eager to know more about what Internet users are searching for.

Behavioral targeting continues its command of privacy news but two stories so far this month reflect another privacy hot spot: accountability. In one story we learned of a 22-year-old former U.S. hospital worker who will be held accountable for her mishandling of a patient's medical record by serving a one-year prison term. In another, we heard that, in a first-of-its-kind case, a third-party auditor is being sued for failing to identify security gaps in a client's system which, shortly thereafter, hackers breached.

The worm has turned, it seems, on the handling of privacy gaffes. Gone are the days when breaches flew under the radar because there was no requirement to tell or no clear person to hold accountable. The mistakes that back then didn't fall clearly under IT, HR or QC, for example, might today fall neatly within the purview of a privacy person. The emergence of the profession, and the professional, means that sometimes the pointing fingers will land squarely between the eyes of a CPO, as we found out earlier this year in the case of Google. In "Privacy blunders foster a new era of accountability," we hear more about this evolution and what is emerging as a clarion call for accountability in the privacy profession.

There's an equally interesting "accountability" discussion going on right now on the IAPP Facebook page. We hope you'll chime in.

J. Trevor Hughes, CIPP

Executive Director, IAPP